As many of you know, my mom Barbara has been Ina Garten’s assistant for more than 20 years. What started as a part-time job working on The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook turned into an exciting, life-changing career and unique friendship. Last week my mom and I decided to have an early Mother’s Day brunch and cook together. Whenever my mother visits, we cook. Mother’s Day is no exception - she has so much wisdom in the kitchen and I’m always learning from her. We laugh and chat. If I happen to rush through things or get ahead of myself, my mom gives me the “this is how Ina does it” line. It’s wonderful.
We settled on two dishes for brunch – one from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, and one from Cook Like A Pro, Ina’s latest cookbook release. My mom has worked on all 11 cookbooks and, at the moment, these two volumes bookend her career with Ina. It’s really been an incredible experience for my mom and it’s so interesting to hear the behind-the-scenes stories of how the recipes came together.
From The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, we made Banana Crunch Muffins (page 212). I’d made them before, but never with my mother – she gave me a few good tips. First of all, fill the muffin cups with batter – don’t be shy. She says that Ina always uses big, round scoops when dishing out muffins. We used the 2.2-inch scoop and it worked perfectly. The muffins are a great size for brunch and had the perfect bit of crunch on the top. I could have eaten them all day.
The Truffled Scrambled Eggs from Cook Like A Pro (page 251) are incredible. Ina says that the key to cooking them is slow and low – definitely not the way moms are usually scrambling up eggs! Patience is a must – for the first five minutes that the eggs are in the pan, you don’t even touch them! And the Urbani truffle butter is amazing (we ordered online, just like Ina says to do), and now that I’ve tasted it, I want to make everything with truffle butter. The recipes for both dishes are listed at the bottom of this post.
It was a beautiful spring day so we opted to sit outside and enjoy ourselves. Hot coffee, fancy scrambled eggs, and my favorite banana crunch muffins – but the best part was my mom. Cooking with her is so much fun! And when I look back between the first book she was part of and the last, I realize the significance of the journey in between. My life has been shaped by my mother’s love and appreciation for cooking well – making mistakes and trying again (she is, after all, a champion recipe tester!). I’m so lucky to have her appreciation and knowledge passed down to me in such a fun and inspiring way. And it’s not lost on me how fortunate I am to have my mom around to continue that tradition with my children.
My actual Mother’s Day will likely be much more chaotic with kids and the dog and sports and a to-do list but this Mother’s Day brunch was just perfect.
Thank you, Mom. Love, Babe.
Banana Crunch Muffins -yields 18 large muffins
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 extra-large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas)
1 cup medium-diced ripe bananas (1 banana)
1 cup small-diced walnuts
1 cup granola
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
Dried banana chips, granola, or shredded coconut, optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 18 large muffin cups with paper liners. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the melted butter and blend. Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas, and add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Scrape the bowl and blend well. Don't overmix.
Fold the diced bananas, walnuts, granola, and coconut into the batter. Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each 1 to the top. Top each muffin with dried banana chips, granola, or coconut, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly, remove from the pan and serve.
Ina Garten, 1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, All Rights Reserved
Truffled Scrambled Eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 extra-large eggs
1/4 cup half-and-half or milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons truffle butter
3 slices brioche bread, toasted
Minced fresh chives, for garnish
Place a medium (10-inch) saute pan over low heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt but not completely. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until the yolks and whites are just blended. Pour the mixture into the pan but don't mix it.
Allow the eggs to warm slowly over low heat without stirring them. This may take 3 to 5 minutes, so be patient! As soon as the eggs start to cook on the bottom, use a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan and fold the cooked eggs over the uncooked eggs. Once the eggs start to look a little custardy, stir them rapidly with the spatula until they are the texture of very soft custard. Remove the pan from the heat before the eggs are fully cooked, as they will continue to cook in the warm pan. Immediately, stir the truffle butter into the eggs. This will stop the cooking.
Cut the slices of toast in half diagonally and place them on 3 dinner plates. Spoon the scrambled eggs over the toasts and garnish with minced chives. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot.
Copyright 2017, Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved